A judge must decide if Lori Vallow's husband should face trial on charges tied to the deaths of J.J. Vallow and his sister, Tylee Ryan

By Jeff Truesdell
August 03, 2020 05:15 PM
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Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, at left, and his sister Tylee Ryan

Disturbing images of the two victims emerged Monday as prosecutors began in open court to build their case against Chad Daybell, who is accused along with his wife, Lori Vallow, of multiple crimes tied to the disappearance and discovery of the bodies of Lori's two children.

When found on Chad's Idaho property June 9, the body of 7-year-old Joshua "J.J." Vallow was dressed in red pajamas and placed inside a black plastic bag, with his ankles and wrists bound by duct tape, as revealed during a forensics exam, testified Rexburg police Det. Ray Hermosillo. Several layers of duct tape also secured a white plastic bag around the boy's head, he said.

In a nearby pet cemetery in Chad's yard, authorities recovered a mass of burned flesh and bone held in a melted green bucket, and under the bucket, a partial human skull, said Hermosillo. Those remains were later confirmed to belong to J.J.'s sister, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan.

Chad has pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence, and two felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.

After the scheduled two-day hearing that began Monday, Fremont County Judge Faren Eddins will decide whether to bound Chad over for trial on the charges.

Lori also is facing two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for next Monday.

Chad Daybell, left, with his defense attorney John Prior in court Aug. 3, 2020
John Roark/Post Register

She remains jailed in Madison County on a $1 million bond on earlier felony charges of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, as well as resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, contempt of court and willful disobedience of court process or order for failing to produce the two kids. She has pleaded not guilty to those charges. No one has been charged with killing the children.

Kids Reported Missing in November

Lori and Chad, an author who writes about religious doomsday prophecies, were married in early November and quickly became the targets of police scrutiny in the kids’ disappearance after J.J.’s out-of-state grandparents filed a missing-persons report later that same month. J.J. is the adopted son of Lori and her previous husband, Charles Vallow.

But before police could execute a search warrant on the couple’s Rexburg home, police said Lori and Chad fled the area, only to be located without the kids on Jan. 25 in Kaua’i, Hawaii. While in Hawaii, Lori defied a court order to produce the children to police or child welfare officials by Jan. 30, and she was arrested Feb. 20.

Chad Daybell, left, and Lori Vallow
Rexburg Police Department ; Madison County Sheriff's Office/AP/Shutterstock

While looking for the children, Rexburg police reported several misleading statements about their whereabouts from Lori and Chad, and said then that they “strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives [were] in danger.”

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J.J. was last seen Sept. 23, at his school in Rexburg before his mother disenrolled him and told the principal she was considering home-schooling. The last known image of Tylee was taken Sept. 8 while Tylee was on a day trip to Yellowstone National Park with her mother, brother and an uncle, Alex Cox, according to a court filing in Madison County, Idaho.

Authorities using Alex Cox's cell phone records allegedly placed him on Chad's property on two dates that align with the last time the children were seen, and used that as a basis to search there for the children's bodies.

Alex Cox killed Charles Vallow, who was then estranged from Lori, in July 2019 during what he described as a self-defense shooting during an altercation at Lori's previous home in Arizona. He was not charged. Then, in December, Cox died after he was discovered unresponsive in the bathroom of the home he shared with his wife of 12 days in Gilbert, Arizona. A medical examiner eventually ruled that Cox died of natural causes.

Chad married Lori Nov. 5, two weeks after the Oct. 19 death of Chad’s then-wife, Tammy. The investigation into the children’s disappearance has since yielded a second look at Tammy’s death, which officials subsequently termed “suspicious.”